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Isfet as a System

Before you read this post, you absolutely have to read part one first. Otherwise, nothing will really make sense.

In the last post in this series, I left off with discussing why ma’at should be considered a regenerative system, but in order to explain why we should view ma’at in this fashion, we really need to discuss isfet, and then place both concepts side by side in order to see how they function together. In many ways, in order to understand one, I feel you really need to look at both at the same time.

So to get this started, let’s talk about the harbinger of degeneration: disorder.

The role of disorder

Ironically, we have a definition for disorder within natural systems: any resource that can not be used productively by an organism. That is to say, if you get too much of a Thing, even if its a Really Good Thing, you are being thrown into disorder. In terms of keeping natural systems healthy, any natural system really needs to have moderation in all of its parameters, which often times will be summed up as “a healthy level of stress.” Key word here being: healthy. In the same way that our muscles atrophy without use, other parts of systems begin to fall apart if they are never remotely pushed, challenged, or introduced to change (in nature, this usually is changing of seasons, fauna, etc.)

You can see what disorder in natural systems looks like by looking at the weather patterns of 2019. The midwest got too much rain and too much snow. The southwest hasn’t gotten enough heat or rain. Texas has gotten too much rain too early, and is not getting enough now. All of these are examples of ecosystems getting too much or too little of a resource; they are all examples of regenerative systems rubbing against disorder (which is a nice way of saying climate change.)

Too much of something will always result in disorder. Disorder and dysfunction are the gateways to a regenerative system becoming degenerative (isfet.)

We see this time and time again within our own mythological stories, where excess often results in harm or bad things happening, even if what you’re excessing on is not inherently bad. For example, Re’s excessive fear and pride led to his releasing his Eye out onto the world. Her excessive blood lust caused a lot of destruction that Re then had to go and remedy (with more excess — drinking, in this case.) Osiris got a big ol welt on his head from his Atef crown because he was being so vane and arrogant.

When viewed from this lens, it stands to reason why Set often gets classified as necessary chaos or necessary change (he is also a god of excess, showing that the NTRW can also waver in terms of their own balance and moderation.) As I mentioned above, systems need to be pushed sometimes in order to stay healthy. Nothing lives in a vacuum, and so all systems must continually grow and adapt to the ever-changing world around them. When properly handled and balanced, the chaos that Set brings is supposed to be this sort of stress that allows things to grow into something more than they currently are. When the deceased talks about Set “serving [me] above and beyond his own powers,” they are talking about the fact that Set’s service to all of us is supposed to be that useful, healthy stress that pushes us to level up.

The problem is, we don’t live in a healthy regenerative system, and so this disorder often hits harder than it should, and if left unchecked, it becomes very easy for a regenerative system to recoil from any contact with any disorder, ultimately pushing it closer and closer towards becoming degenerative.

Isfet: degeneration in action

If you are continually given more of a Thing than you can handle, it results in disorder within a system or systems. Disorder is what happens when we stray from the moderation and predictable cycling of nature that is necessary to maintain all regenerative and natural systems. In this respect, frequent or constant disorder is a symptom, a warning sign that you’re beginning to slide into isfetian territory. That something within your system is not jiving with some other aspect of another system, and as a result, the quality and health of that system is slowly shifting towards becoming degenerative.

For better or worse, it’s pretty easy to map out what a system starts to do when it begins to slide into degeneration:

  1. Reduction of predictable cycles and resources, causing general disorder within the system.
  2. As general disorder increases, lack of proper synchronization between members of the system occurs, exacerbating the resource distribution further.
  3. Lack of resources leads to excessive stress on all organisms in the systems
  4. Critical mass is reached, and parts of the ecosystem begin to collapse, biodiversity begins to drop.
  5. Reduction of keystone species causes widespread collapse. A single member of a keystone species often supports (usually) hundreds-to-thousands of other organisms at any given time.
  6. Once keystone species begin to disappear, the entire system faces a reduction of resiliency overall. If left unchecked, the system will completely disappear or become “dead” for all intents and purposes.

To see how this sort of situation pans out in real time, all you need to do is look at climate change and desertification. Human activity has caused too much stress to be put onto too many natural systems, and now those systems are slowly (and yet oh-so-quickly) shifting into disorder. As the disorder increases, the cycles that mark stable regenerative systems become more and more out of alignment and out of sync. From there, systems begin to fail. Forests turn into scrub land, scrub land into desert, desert into dunes. The soil supports less and less plant growth, so less and less organisms can be supported by the same amount of land. You get increasingly bad natural disasters and you begin to have winter in May.

For examples on a smaller scale, it’s that moment when you grab a cigarette instead of handling your feelings. It’s when you stay up late on your phone instead of going to bed at a healthy time, or choose to escape into the television instead of handling problems. It’s all of those small little things that detract from our overall well being that we do because we think its harmless.

All of these things are examples of a system being dragged out of regeneration into degeneration. And it’s affecting all of us, because we’re all natural, regenerative systems relying for our survival on a much larger series of natural systems that are being dragged into isfetian territory.

The importance of scale and context

One of the biggest things I wanted to make sure to clarify is that in many situations, isfet is not a singular action, but a series of actions or a trend that occurs over a period of time. Disorder is often like a crescendo: it starts off small and quiet. A few things here, a few things there. But then it slowly builds until it becomes a pattern, a habit, a trend. Something that happens consistently time and time again, which slowly takes a toll on the resilience of the system it is antagonizing.

To pick on climate change again, it wasn’t just one farmer that caused our soil to degrade. It wasn’t just one car that polluted the air. It wasn’t just one billionaire or CEO hiding key information about how we’re destroying the planet. No, it was millions of cars, hundreds of farmers and fields, and many many years of people in positions of power purposefully choosing to ignore the writing on the wall while the planet slowly degraded in the background. It’s not just one action, its lots of little actions that have built on one another to create a wave.

Similarly, the solution to something like climate change won’t be one simple action, either. It takes many many actions to degrade, and it takes many many actions to rebuild.

This is vital to understand because we must always examine situations within their wider context. We must always look at trends, because while exceptions to a rule can exist, it also belies that there is a rule, a trend, that this exception is pushing against.

This is why the balance of ma’at is so necessary. Regenerative beings need specific things in order to survive, and when that balance gets thrown into disarray, everything that system touches is effected on some level. While it’s not just a singular action that will cause a system to degenerate, at the same time, it is still very easy for things to quickly degrade and shift from bad to worse. It’s why the gods would have needed to be persistent and diligent with fighting back isfet.

I mentioned in the first post that in this modern era we have built up this sort of facade that we are somehow separate and untouchable from the natural systems we were born into, but its simply not true. The more degenerative the system we live in becomes, the more necessary and, frankly, involuntary it’ll be for people to participate in fixing the problems at hand.

Maintaining ma’at is the responsibility of all of us. Even if you’re avoiding it now, eventually you may not have that luxury.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to apply this model to aspects of our lives to see if it is harmful and isfetian in nature, or if its helping to sustain or increase ma’at in the world.

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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Devo’s Burninatin’ Celebration 2019

I really don’t know if I should be using the same title that I did in the past for my big community execration that occurred at Wep Ronpet, but it felt weird to call it anything else, so I chose to use the same title for old time’s sake. I haven’t performed any Wep Ronpet rites since 2016, and the best part about the rites I did in 2016 is that I can’t remember anything about them. If it wasn’t for the fact that I documented them in a post, I would seriously have forgotten nearly everything about them. Memory and autoimmune diseases are fun like that.

This is the first Burninatin’ Celebration that I’ve done without Set at the helm, and without community involvement. For the first time ever (for me,) O was calling the shots and ritual work played a heavy focus for nearly every aspect of the holiday. The man seems to like to keep you busy, too, because despite the original dictation of “do what you think is best,” I soon found that he had his own laundry list of things I should be doing for each of the days.

Osiris is a diva, let it be known.

Epag Day 1: Osiris

The key words that were generated for O’s ritual were: growth, renewal, and grains. I couldn’t help but feel like there was a push to focus on his vegetative nature, and specifically, the relationship between plants and the sun. So I went with it. The morning of his day, I noticed that I had a memo to create art for him to use in the ritual, as well as “you should write about this thing over here.” Of course, I didn’t know if this meant that it was expected of me to do this for every epagomenal day, or if O was just trying to be Super Special, but as I’m sure you all know by now, I opted to just try and hit all of the same points for every epgaomenal day afterwards.

I struggled with his art piece, shifting between trying to draw a version of him, and drawing something more abstract. Most everything I started off with was very literal or related to a physical form and symbolism, but I eventually was able to break into something a little bit more abstract and got the idea to do palm trees with akh stars in the background. The white box was there in every version that I created, though I’m not sure what exactly it’s supposed to mean. I only know that it feels like the stuff on the outside is supposed to be similar to the Nun.

It’s worth noting that no other deity was so difficult to convey in an abstract form. I’m not sure what to make of that other than perhaps Osiris is really tied to his physical form in a way that other NTRW are not.

Epag Day 2: Heru-Wer

Poor Heru-Wer. His day was the definition of a cluster. I had to get up early and drag feral cats to get spayed. I had to go get groceries and send things out for wrapping up grandpa’s affairs. I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to him, and I personally think it shows. The words originally chosen for his ritual theming were repair, restoration, finding place, completion. Unlike O, he had absolutely no druthers about anything regarding his ritual structure or the contents therein. Its about the same as the direction for his post. It was vague and probably could have been nothing more than a footnote in this very post, but I personally wish he got more attention, and so I wanted to make sure he had a place within the week of posts that was coming.

So I haphazardly attempted to convey what he had given me, and I wish I could rewrite the post, because I could do so much more with it now that it’s sat in my head for a week, but I was trying to ride with Osiris’ encouragement to stay within the present day and to not focus on “working ahead” so that I could ensure that deadlines were met. I think the idea was to get lost in the experience and not focus on the potential “failing” of a deadline, but that’s really hard when you’re me and your brain is operating on a third of what it used to.

His picture had direction, but my skill level wasn’t what it needed to be in order to make it what I saw in my head. The image is supposed to be of a ridge of either sand or mountains, perhaps a canyon, in the foreground. And the upper portion of the image was to be a multicolored sunset that was vibrant and bright. But the more I tried to layer on color, the more muddy it got, so I let it be and I hope he isn’t too sad about it.

Unlike most of the other NTRW, Heru-Wer did actually convey imagery and emotions to me throughout the art making and ritual process. Despite our distance in terms of regular contact, he is surprisingly open with me whenever I actually attempt to show up. Again, I don’t know what to make of that.

Epag Day 3: Set

The day I was looking forward to the least. The entire process of trying to get anything from Set on what to do for his ritual (or his anything) has been challenging. Because his day was in the middle of the epag days, and because it was the same day that my Monthly Ma’at ritual would have occurred, I chose to make ma’at his theming, since his energies are best utilized when in alignment with ma’at anyways.

The day itself was very fitting for him. The weather was abnormally cool, we had just had a night of storms and so it was lightly raining and cloudy most of the day. When I first tried to prod Set for topics for his post, the only response I originally got was an old song that played during one of our first known encounters. It’s a song that I don’t particularly like anymore, but liked it a lot when I was a kid and was still into country music. The song played and played inside of my head for hours, and I began to question if I would be able to figure anything out fast enough to actually make a post about it. I have no clue if the song playing was more a case of him playing coy, or if actually wanted me to write about the song itself. My biggest concern was ultimately that I didn’t think anyone would care about a post where I prattle on about how the song is largely tied to emotions, and how I have dodged his emotions for years for reasons I don’t fully understand.

I’m fully aware that the complicated and messy state of our relationship underpinned every aspect of his day because we’ve been in this awkward staring-from-a-distance stance for a few years now. I first noticed sometime last year that his statue was still relatively open and functional in comparison to everyone else who seemingly had wrapped up shop and closed the door because I wasn’t home anymore. Every time I walk past the cabinet where his statue currently lives, I feel the eyes on me. I’m completely and utterly aware that despite the fact that he has been “gone,” he has been keeping tabs the entire time.

This is further complicated by my recent departure from pretty much every aspect of what me and Set worked on once upon a time. The fact that I’m currently doing work for O, and that I don’t know how much mingling or interacting Set and I are even supposed/allowed to have at the moment. Everything about “us” is currently kinda weird and not stable, and I think it bled into everything I tried to do for him.

I wrote four posts on his day. Only one went out to be read, and the others will languish in my drafts bin until I get tired of looking at them and delete them. I wanted to piggy back off of SGI’s post because it was a good one, and it was ultimately their post that helped me decide to actually post something, even if it wasn’t great. I admit that the lack of response to Heru Wer’s post left me questioning if doing daily posts for a week was somehow a Bad Idea, but again, I was trying to lean into what O wanted. So here we are.

His art was very abstract and very straightforward. When I was done with it, it reminded me a lot of the fiery pits that are said to exist in the Duat, they are places where people who are not in alignment with ma’at will be burned by the fire, but those who are pure enough will be rejuvenated by the fire.

Unlike everyone else, I got the urge to place his statue onto the shrine surface while doing his ritual. When I got the image of what to do, it was like someone sitting on their couch with their soda in their left hand, their popcorn in their right hand, soaking in the light of the tv. So that’s why his statue is facing away from me in the image.

Epag Day 4: Aset

Ever since reading the CT for my year of rites work, I’ve found I have way too many feelings and identifications with Aset for my preferences. Once upon a time she had ventured forward, and I suppose I no longer really question why. There’s too much overlap in our histories for us to not have at least some things in common. Her ritual key words were acceptance, abundance, and new beginnings, and most of her ritual rubric flowed way more freely than the others. For whatever reason, there is a clear power shift within her ritual that is different from everyone else’s. Make of that what you will.

Her art piece came forward quite clearly. I had two scrap pieces left over from some of the week’s earlier art, and for whatever reason, it seemed that I should use two of the pieces to create what is essentially one piece of art. My ability to get the art just so was limited by my technique. The purple isn’t as deep and royal as I wanted, and I wanted there to be more depth in the spiral, but I couldn’t make it happen.

 

Her post almost didn’t happen, either. My mother was over for most of the day, and I find it very hard to concentrate or work when she’s here, so I had to wait until the evening hours to even really sit down and think about what to write. I suppose in some respects because she’s so prolific, it can be challenging to figure out which aspect to write about because there are so many options to choose from. But I also expect that part of my difficulties laid in the fact that my relating to her is still too close to home right now. It’s hard for me to branch out beyond “it hurts to lose someone,” and to try and find something more empowering or uplifting that fit in with the overall theming of the week was a bit challenging because of where I’m at mentally. But it eventually got done.

Epag Day 5: Nebhet

Nebhet is always an enigma for me. Any year I’ve celebrated the epagomenal days, she’s always been quite vacant or MIA, but she showed up pretty strongly this year. Compared to everyone else, she was the most eager to get started, since I could feel her as early as the night before. I had minor guidance on her ritual work, though it was more of a “here is a picture, use that to drive your rubric,” which only sorta helped. Her key words were peace, stillness, health, and rejuvenation, and the image I received was mostly black/purple and gold. I wanted to include instances of black and gold in the rubric, but I wasn’t sure if it would make sense or be accurate, so I changed things slightly to stay on the safe side. Even now, I have fears of venturing too far out of our traditional safe zones when it comes to rubric creation, and this is a good example of it.

I was met with heavy visions the morning of her day. They were abstract in a lot of ways, but after pouring through what little information I have on Nebhet afterwards, I think I can sort of see what was being shown to me, though I’m not sure what to do with it. There were a million impressions I got about her through these visions, but again, my fear of presenting UPG and it being inaccurate sorta stalled me out from writing about it. I poked and prodded all day to try and see if I could tease a post out of me, but it never happened. She had stated early on in the day that a post wouldn’t be necessary, so I tried to remind myself that I am human, and just dealt with the fact that I didn’t finish what I had started.

I had an idea for her artwork from day one, but when I finally put pen to paper, it changed ever so slightly. Overall, I think I like her piece the most.

I offered her the same grapes that I used for the propitiation at the beginning of the epagomenal days, largely because I was having a bad eating day, and it seemed acceptable to her to give something that represents the food, even if I wasn’t going to eat it (because it’s not edible.)

Wep Ronpet Proper

The actual rites for Wep Ronpet happened a day late for me. The original day they were scheduled ended up turning out pretty awful. I had a really bad mental health day, and it seemed like a bad space to be in for celebrating the new year. So instead, I focused on figuring out what I wanted to execrate the next day, and where I really wanted to go in the next six months.

The next morning I performed the execration bright and early, and followed that up with rituals later on in the day. When I took my usual photo of the shrine at the end of the ritual, I remarked at how similar it looked to all of the other more-regular rituals that I’ve been doing. And honestly, the day wasn’t markedly different or celebrated beyond that, even though it sounded nice in theory. I can’t help but wonder what it means that my brain picked up on the regularity or commonness of such a more Important holiday. I can’t tell if it means I should have done more, or if the point is that the Important holidays are also just regular days, part of a regular thing that repeats itself, well, regularly.

Either way, that was it for this year. If you made it through all 2500 words of this post, you deserve a cookie.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Kemeticism, Year of Rites

 

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I Have Come, Equipped with Magic

I have always felt as though there was a lot of overlap between Aset and Set, as in their drive and ability to Get What They Want always seemed similar to me. Both deities seem to be willing to kick a devotee into gear by any means necessary in order to get things moving forward. Both have been known to create waves throughout the company of the NTRW, both are capable of fighting off a/pep from the solar barque (fun fact, it’s not just Set who is capable of this,) and both have a way of being a bit subversive in the rules that they choose to follow or not follow. Even Spell 84 in Borghouts states that “her heart was more rebellious than an infinite number of men”, and I don’t know how much more alignment with Setian energy you can get with so much rebellion flowing through your veins.

In many ways, both Set and Aset have very good survival methods, though I posit that they survive and are able to do what they do through very different means. Traditionally, Set is considered a deity of strength and force. As mentioned yesterday, he represents everything that is natural, wild, and out of our control. In terms of tropes, he’s the character that is able to punch his way out of any situation. It is his strength and ability to force change where he needs or wants it to be that allows him to be effective.

Aset, on the other hand, is less about physical force and is more about mental acuity and observation put into action. It’s her ability to read a situation quickly, and know exactly who or what to do or say to shift the tide into her favor that has allowed her to be as successful as she has been. As it happens, I was looking into what causes resiliency and an ability to survive in the face of danger or threat (for Set’s post,) and it turns out that being able to read a situation and make very quick and decisive decisions at the drop of a hat is key to being able to survive despite incredible obstacles. I believe that Aset embodies these aspects of survival.

Regardless of what version of the Osirian myth you read, Aset is always front and center, to facilitate Osiris’ safe transition into his new way of being. It’s also Aset who facilitates Horus’ ability to not only be conceived, but to survive long enough to become King. While it’s true that Aset often utilizes other entity’s powers and abilities to make this happen (such as calling on the NTRW to heal Horus when he is stung by a scorpion, etc.), that is exactly what makes her heka so impressive and formidable.

In many ways, her ability to find the right spaces to pick at, to ask the right questions, create the right alliances or situations to get what she wants — all of these things are forms of her heka, and they are what make her powerful. She doesn’t even necessarily have to do the work — she can say the right things to get you into doing it for her, or set it up in such a fashion where you have no choice but to acquiesce her request.

“Now Isis was a wise woman. Her heart was more rebellious than an infinite number of men, more smart than an infinite number of gods. She was more clever than an infinite number of spirits. There was nothing she was ignorant of in heaven or on the earth- like Re’, who takes care of the needs of the earth.”

When you consider the fact that Aset is the throne, the seat upon which kingship is grounded, it begs to ask if these are the sorts of traits necessary to excel as the King. Of course, you have traits from both Set and Horus, but if you’re not capable of knowing when to use brute strength vs. when to use structures and legality to get what you need, you won’t be very effective at wielding either aspect. To me, it seems that Aset has the means by which to know how and when to utilize the skills of herself and others so that the task gets done quickly and effectively. Having her abilities would give you a firm foundation to utilize any other skills you gained throughout a lifetime.

And if we go back to the concept that each of us is, in our own way, kings within our own lives, it begs to ask if we should be cultivating more of these aspects within ourselves as well. Not necessarily the ability to manipulate people or use people to get what we want (as it is sometimes stated that Aset has done in some myths,) but instead to cultivate and fine-tune our senses, communication, and heka to be more effective in creating beneficial outcomes out of whatever kind of situation you walk into.

There are means to improve our observation skills, and improving those skills will likely open us up to new possibilities, new ideas, new edges to interact with. There are means to become better listeners, better communicators, and better humans that will bring us to be more present with the world around us. When you’re more present, you’re more able to seize opportunity, notice small details, and get what you want out of life. All of these things are embodied by aspects of Aset, and all of these things feed into ma’at. If Aset is the foundation upon which a king sits, then perhaps her skills should be the foundation upon building a more stable life or existence.

I think there is one other key part to really wielding the type of heka that Aset does, and that is the skill of knowing where you are going. When I went to her with my thoughts about the contents of this post, she responded with only thing (and I am paraphrasing), “Knowing how to get what you want is important, but what is it exactly that you want?” I think it bears repeating that we may all know what we don’t want, but there is also power in knowing what we do want. In order to truly tap into her ability to transform a situation, we must have an idea of what we want to transform the situation in to.

Do you feel that you embody Aset’s heka? Do you wish that you did? In what ways would her type of heka be helpful in your life?

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Lord of Edges

Edges occur where one thing ends and another thing begins. Where land turns into ocean. Where the base of your offering cup rests against the shrine’s surface. Where doorways are. All of these things create edges or boundaries between two things. An edge denotes that you’re shifting from A to B, regardless of whatever A and B might be.

According to edge effect, an edge has an increased biodiversity because it combines elements of both systems that create the edge itself. It becomes an entity unto itself that is different from everything around it. In many ways, I consider this a sort of chaos —  there are so many things occurring and going on from all sides that it can be challenging to tell where the edge begins and ends exactly, much less how all of the moving parts and pieces exist within this narrow ledge of space.

Slowly I’ve become to view Set as a deity of edges. He is the entity that you call (or don’t, honestly) if you’re stuck in a place where you no longer should be, it’s his domain and expertise to know not only when, but how to drag someone from the center of that system and then yeet them across an edge into a new system that is better for them. Of course, the act of transition is rarely that simple or smooth, and that’s what makes it something of a specialty. Osiris demands that you want to be there, but Set will drag you kicking and screaming, whether you like it or not, and that’s where he’s most comfortable. The uncomfortable space where things come together is what he’s used to and best suited for.

Butler refers to Set as “all the wild elements of human nature that resist civilization. Especially in his animal guises, or as the God of storms, Seth embodies the points at which nature itself comes into conflict with the human world, resisting domestication, or the points at which humans seek justification for their exploitation of nature.” In this description, you can begin to see how systems are coming into contact with each other (nature and humans, disorder and order, predictability/control and lack of control)  and how Set shows up in any of those situations where contact occurs. The very touching of two systems creates a space that is ideal for his energy. When humans decided to utilize that energy, they ultimately developed a loophole wherein all of their exploitation can be pinned on Set, which wipes their conscience clean.

I believe that his role as an initiator, a bringer of chaos, a being who brings forth transition, a moving from point A to point B not only involves the manipulation of edges, which is to say that he is able to bring a state of transition closer to a person, but that he’s also able to create edges where the person already is, if needed. If someone is really stuck and refuses to move closer to the threshold of growth, perhaps its within his wheelhouse to be able to bring the threshold of growth to the person.

I expect that these are the moments when he comes in like the Kool Aid Man and just breaks down your living room wall so that you have no choice but to do what is needed. When left unchecked and unbridled, Set’s chaos has the same force that nature has, and it will sweep you up in its current and take you where it wants to regardless of consent. In essence, that is what it’s like to be pulled up into his movements and trials. You’ll be carried along this liminal space between what you knew and what he wants you to know. You’ll rub up against all sorts of new concepts and ideas. You’ll be uncomfortable for a long time. Ideally, you’ll eventually stumble your way through to the other side, stronger for the ride.

In permaculture, maximizing your edges is vital to creating resilient designs that withstand the oncoming horrors of climate change. The more biodiversity that you can introduce into an ecosystem, the better, and you do that by creating as many edges as possible. I spoke in my post earlier this year about how we should increase the edges in our lives so that we could have more diverse experiences and expand our horizons. But I would like to add onto that now to include that I feel that doing so is somewhat leaning into Setian energies, and there is useful heka in that knowledge.

Earlier today SGI wrote about Set and his associations to survival as it relates to climate change. Climate change, in a nutshell, is going to make our weather patterns unpredictable, and it will, by extension, effect every other aspect of the natural world around us because nature uses weather as a form of cyclical regulation. Plants require certain amounts of heat and freeze at specific times in order to produce fruit. Animals rely on markers of humidity, heat, or coolness to determine when to hibernate or mate or what have you.

By shifting the weather, we will be destabilizing and unpredictably altering the systems that we live in because we’re removing their baseline for homeostasis. In many ways, the edges that are familiar to us will become distorted and unfamiliar. Sure, some parts will likely remain somewhat familiar, but we will also be living in the equivalent of nature’s uncanny valley as the patterns we knew change and wobble year to year.

SGI suggested that Set would be the deity par excellence to help get us through these tumultuous times ahead. I agree. Set is all about survival, and he has the capacity to teach a person how to survive. The key here is that I expect that the surviving and the teaching will be more effective and smoother if all of us were more open to being yeeted across those chasms that keep us locked in our inertness. Most of us have no means to fully stop or avoid what is coming in terms of climate change. We can only change how we react to it.

How do you feel when you think about being yeeted into transition? Do you fear it or embrace it? How could you make yourself more open to transition and change?  

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

I felt bad for Heru-Wer as I went into the epagomenal days. I knew that his day would be chalk full of tasks and errands that needed to get done, and so I knew he wouldn’t get the same level of time or dedication as everyone else, and I felt bad about it. I wanted to try and get a head start on things by working on his stuff yesterday, but O was very big in the “live in the moment, quit trying to work ahead” shtick, and so I waited.

And cue this morning where I’ve been running non-stop and still have barely done anything for Heru-Wer’s birthday.

But sometimes things come in mysterious ways, and here is how today’s arrived: I was sitting in a restaurant and doodling in blank spaces in my bujo. I was working on something that I had placed on July 3, the day grandpa had his stroke. While I had originally considered the text “You can’t stop what’s coming” as being purely related to grandpa because I couldn’t stop the stroke or the incoming downhill slide that occurred, I noticed partway through inking it that it took on a very Setian tone. I joked that perhaps they had swapped days so that Set could minimize any interaction we might have because I’d be too busy to spend time with him. Even though I couldn’t place if it was from a NTR, something about it stuck in my mind. Conveniently, Sat had started to respond to my questions about Heru-Wer around the same time, and the more I mulled about what I associate with Heru-Wer, the more I began to believe that perhaps it was from him.

The best part being that when it was finally all colored in, you get a secret message:

I don’t really work with any of the Herus (Horii?, so my perceptions of him and his associations are pretty limited. The only real things I associate him with are losing an eye, kingship, and protecting the Two Lands. Boundaries and defense are the two words I would use to sum up my knowledge of Heru-Wer specifically, and that is exactly what I wanted to originally talk about today regarding him. But after having drawn this, I want to hone in on what it’s like to be in a position of defense, and knowing you’ll need to defend in the near future.

While I know that most of us are not in any sort of military position that would often be labeled as “defense,” I think that all of us come to points in our lives where we have to defend ourself or others. Ultimately, part of being a healthy and balanced person is knowing when you defend your boundaries and when to draw a line in the sand. If you never defend yourself, you will ultimately end up in unhealthy and abusive relationships. It’s mandatory to know how to defend yourself (and others, in my opinion) properly.

That being said, I think that the worst thing about being in an actively defensive position, or being someone who knows they must defend someone or something else, is that you fully realize that something is coming for you. Even though you know it’s coming, you can’t leave your position, you can’t necessarily avoid it outright. No, instead you must stay the course and wait for the impact that inevitably will occur.

I admit that I hate waiting for the impact. I hate knowing that an impact is coming because my anxiety ramps up in an attempt to prepare for it. I begin to try to think of ways to out maneuver whatever might happen. Ways I can protect myself or others against some semi-unknown future foe. I catastrophize and lowkey panic about what might happen. I waste precious precious energy embracing the idea of the impact instead of just waiting for the impact to arrive and embracing that.

The idea of “you can’t stop what’s coming” was ultimately kind of freeing to me. I found myself in a similar place as when I read the Litany Against Fear: “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” In a way, it forces me to not only reckon with the fact that something is coming, but it also reminds me of the fact that there’s nothing you can do about it. It reminds me that there is a limit to what I can do, and that there is nothing wrong with accepting that limitation.

In a way, this is a similar conversation to something me and Set used to talk about. He always framed it as “there will always be wolves”, which is to say, there will always be things that seek to hurt you (and so you must always be prepared.) But its rooted in fear and an expectation that there will always be things that are actively coming after you. For me, it makes me feel I need to prepare for everyone to be a wolf. It constantly puts you in a state of hyper-vigilance.

This reframing shifts that perspective for me, though. It puts me back in my body, back in the place where I always live. Back in my skin where I am reminded that limitations are a thing, that we can still have our pleasures (the highlighted text of “can’t stop coming”) despite the fact that we can’t always prevent bad stuff from showing up at our door.

Ironically, its a different aspect of yesterday’s conversation about being inert. Except this time, you’re simultaneously inert and moving. You’re inert because you’re always stuck in your body or stuck in whatever position of defense you need to maintain. And yet, while still being inert in that position of defense, you’re also being moved — usually by whatever you’re defending against. To bring it back more to what I expect would be historically Heru-Wer’s territory, you may need to move around a lot to chase down an infiltrator, to help stop incoming armies or enemies. You have to be agile and quick to get where you need to be to defend whatever needs defending.

But at the same time, everywhere you go, there you are. To some extent, there is a portion of us that is unchanging since our birth. A part of us that is static or inert if you will, and that part will always be carried with us wherever we go. Regardless of what fray we get thrown into, we’re all stuck in our bodies, stuck in the thick of this thing called life. The things around us may change, but we are always stuck where we are — in these really fancy meatsuits.

Ultimately, the thing we (probably should) defend the most in our life is ourselves, the most static and inert thing we own. We can’t stop what’s coming, we can only do our best to prepare for it and have some pleasure in between the waves of life. And there’s probably nothing wrong with that.

I have no clue if that’s what he had in mind when he sent me the doodle, but that’s what I got out of it.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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The Inert One

Today is the first epagomenal day, and because I felt the urge, let’s talk about Osirian change as it relates to one of his epithets: The Inert One.

I have been thinking about the Osirian cycles of rebirth a lot this year — specifically the second hour. The second hour is where the deceased, now being inert, has to choose to move forward or to stay in their inertness. I’ve mentioned several times these past two years about how the inert ones have seemingly captured my attention (because I’ve felt inert for years now), and they are still pretty centered and focused in my mind.

In this specific instance (at least), I do believe I know why my brain is so heavily focused on the inert ones, and that is because everywhere I look, I feel like I am constantly seeing people stuck in inertia. They may not entirely be inert, but they are inert enough that they aren’t moving forward in the ways they want to, and every time I see it in action, a part of me gets really upset/sad.

Just like in my last post where I mentioned that while I understand that these Osirian rebirth texts are supposed to be for the dead and not the living, I can’t help but draw parallels between them. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time being inert, I know what its like to have a blind spot, to not realize that despite all of the ground you think you’re making, you’re actually not making ground at all. A house built on sand will not last long, and I have made plenty of houses on malformed foundations in the hopes that it’ll work.

I find it interesting how often my work with both Set and Osiris brings me back to foundations. Set was always very big into telling me to build solid foundations. While most of you know that it was in relation to building our community — that only strong foundations would allow a community like ours to last — I have also had to sit through plenty of pontificating and lecturing from him (and others) about how my own life needs to be built on a solid foundation in order for other parts to function properly. To use the metaphor above: the doors in your house won’t work very well if everything is cockeyed due to uneven foundations. If the foundation is made poorly, everything else above it suffers.

On the flip side, I have always talked about Osiris being the tree outside that secretly grows its roots into your foundation — that by the time you realize what has happened, its too late to do anything, and now you need to call a repair person to fix your house. Even though Set is known for his chaos and destruction of bad habits to lay way for better habits, I think Osiris and his methods of rebirth are an under-sung variation of what Set does.

The key difference being that Set is like the Kool Aide Man, and doesn’t care if you want him there or not, where as Osiris mandates that you have to want to be there. Roberts talks about it in her book:

“Osirian renewal requires a conscious and voluntary entry into the underworld realm, and active desire to fulfill the unification of the living and the dead.”

So one of the key components to overcoming the inertia of hour two is to actually want to overcome it enough to actually move forward. Osiris has this in his own mythology, where he is being kept safe inside of a space enclosed by a snake, and Osiris has to gather enough gumption to force the snake to let him go because all the snake wanted to do was keep him there safe forever (sounds like a coming-of-age trope).

We have to want it. And sometimes it seems like we really do want it, and still can’t seem to make it happen. What is it that stops us from moving forward when we believe we do actually want to?

It’s been my experience that a lot of people stay stuck because of avoidance. You avoid doing the work that needs to be done in order to move forward, so you stay put. Turns out, psychology has a lot to say about what causes people to avoid things. In short, its because your body doesn’t feel like it can handle whatever the doing will bring forth for you to deal with. Sometimes that’s something like a fear of failure, other times it might be a worry that you’ll lose something important, or perhaps that you can’t handle the idea of losing your cool in front of someone over it (notice the common themes of fear and loss of control in all of these.)

It also turns out that we typically behave based off of what we expect, regardless of whether we’re conscious of that expectation or not. So if you expect it to be a shitshow that you can’t really handle, you will essentially avoid it as long as possible. If you’re living with three spoons and you expect it to be a five-spoon task, you may never actually get around to doing it.

For example, I avoided going to the doctor for months while my health degraded because I was worried that it would be way more work than I could handle. I expected that most of the doctors would be useless (they were,) and I worried it would be more emotionally draining and taxing than beneficial. I expected not to receive help, so I avoided even trying because of how daunting the whole ordeal felt it would be.

Avoidance tactics are largely used by people who are completely overwhelmed and burned out. When your body is on its last legs and feels like everything is just Too Much, you will start to avoid things almost reflexively because your body is trying to protect you from taking on more than it can handle. Likely because you are already taking on more than you can handle. This is further entrenched because we often will side with whatever is familiar over whatever is unfamiliar — especially if we’re burned out. So even if its uncomfortable and Awful, you may still stay right where you’re at because at least its familiar.

My grandmother used to have a little quip for these sorts of situations: a dog is laying on a nail poking out of a step, a guy yells at the owner for not making the dog get up off of it, and the owner replies, “I’m not making him lay there! When the nail hurts enough, the dog will get up on his own.” She used to sum it up as “the nail doesn’t hurt bad enough yet, does it?”

And its pretty true. Most of us move because we’ve been forced to move (hello Setian change) or it got bad enough that we are finally motivated to make the choice to move (hello Osirian change.) It’s difficult to enact large-scale change when you’re living in a constant state of near burn out (which is why you should start out with small-scale change,) and so it often takes outside forces to push us to do whatever needs to be done. It’s a shame that so many of us are stuck in these cycles.

As we move into the new year, I think it behooves us to ask ourselves about our state of inertness:

  1. In what areas of your life are you currently inert? What are you avoiding working on or addressing?
  2. When you think of these things you are avoiding, what comes up? How does it make you feel? What is holding you back?
  3. What can you do to address these feelings or things that hold you back?
  4. What are you giving up in order to stay comfortably where you are?
  5. Where would you rather be instead? What can you do to get there?

Maybe by becoming more intimate and aware about the things that keep us inert, and why we let them keep us inert, we’ll be able to overcome our inertia and actualize all of the rebirths that we’re aiming to experience.

How often do you examine your inertness? If you took the time to try to answer the questions above, what did you find?

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Carrying My Father; pt 2

I have been doing akhu rites for the better part of six months now. Every time I have written the rubrics or performed the rites, my mind has always pictured me doing work for Osiris, the deity that pushed me to do akhu rites to begin with. But this month shifted my impressions of these rites as I got to experience a “slow” death first hand. Suddenly, more and more of the words were describing actions I was doing here in the physical for a man who was in the dying process. This post is to document the parallels I found between caregiving and ritualized tidbits I found in the Coffin Texts about tending to Osiris.

Hail to you who mourns the Bull of the West, who folds her arms on account of the Inert One within the secret place of the Great Hall; who knits up the soul, who builds up the shade and who gives breath to the Inert One in this her name of ‘Her who is in attendance on her lord’.

I’m semi surprised that I didn’t notice it before, but it wasn’t until I had to start doing 24/7 levels of caregiving that I really realized that caregiving is ultimately one of the biggest forms of “attending” to a person that you can do. While I understand that a lot of these rites are meant to be for someone who is already dead, and that the attending is more about preparing the body for funerary rites, in this situation it felt very applicable. When someone moves into pre-active, and finally into active dying, the caregiving you must give them is almost a full-time affair.

In the case of my grandfather, it got to where you had to assist him with almost everything. Getting out of bed. Going outside to smoke. Getting to the bathroom. Getting to the kitchen. Putting on clothing (if he bothered to change at all.) Drinking. Sometimes eating. Your life suddenly revolves around one other person because they’re not able to do very much for themself anymore. I can’t imagine a better picture of what it means to “attend” to someone as you’re facilitating almost all aspects of a person’s comfort and needs.

I belong to the House of Osiris, I watch over it; I veil his limpness, I ease his severe suffering for him; I know what Sia knows, and a path is opened for me, for I am the Lord of Air.

Nobody told me how much laundry you generate when someone is dying.

As much of a difficulty as it was to keep the house clean before things started to really ramp up, the pre-active dying process makes taking care of your “house of Osiris” all the more complicated. Because you’re busy helping a person get around, you find that dishes pile up, that things don’t get done, and slowly everything starts to look a little sad.

But the laundry. You see, when you start to really die, your bowels kinda do their own thing. You’ll relieve yourself in bed on accident because some part of you never got the memo to wake you up to go to the bathroom. There were days when we went through three or four pairs of pants and underwear. Where we needed to replace the sheets in the morning and again in the evening.

Another key job was to “veil his limpness” by making sure that he still looked presentable right up until the bitter end. To me, this plays right into “ease his severe suffering for him,” because you’re not only easing the physical pain via helping administer medications, but you’re also easing the pain of the ego from all of the inability to function. I remember one of the last days my grandfather was alive, I asked him if he was hurting anywhere, and he told me the only thing that hurt was his pride.

Due to my chronic conditions, I’m more or less used to having to give up parts of my autonomy to get things done. I’m used to needing assistance for a fair amount of things. However, for people who have never had to experience such a thing, it’s not easy to not be able to care for yourself. It’s not easy to lose your autonomy. It’s not easy to not even be able to go to the bathroom alone. And part of easing that pain, in my experience, was to create as much normalcy as possible. Treating him like a full-fledged adult up until the end, and never forgetting that there was a person with emotions still resting inside of the body, even after he had gone into his final coma.

To me, it was vital to achieve these things in order for him to have a relatively smooth time of processing the death he was about to experience.

I will not be ignorant of my path to the realm of the dead, for I am a spirit whose mouth is hale, and magic is what equips me according to my desire. I have come free from corruption, I have poured away my foulness.

Despite it being a well-documented thing, so very few people actually know what happens during the dying process. There are tons of web pages that outline what you can expect before you die, and its very unsettling how predictable and “expected” some aspects can be. Many of these things are more neutral-to-positive in nature including giving away of possessions, writing letters or tying up loose ends with other people, and having dreams about dead relatives/friends or your life.

While there are no proven reasons behind why some of these things happen (beyond “its your body shutting down”), there are a lot of people who believe that so many of the steps that a dying person goes through is simply their body trying to prepare them, and make them okay for the death they are about to endure. In many ways, you are “pouring away your foulness” by overcoming hurdles that prevented you from accepting things in your earlier years. Sometimes people will have a complete 180 in their attitude towards dying once they start to have these events happen, and in a way, it is sort of it’s own “magic” that your body equips for you.

Lady of All in the secret place; to whom Osiris turns his back in these his moments of inertness;

However, not every aspect of the pre-active drying phase is seen as being beneficial or even neutral. As it turns out, when your brain starts to shut down and misfire from your body slowly going, you might begin to do all sorts of things. Night terrors, screaming, agitation, and anger are all things that have been reported during the final phase of life. There is even something called “terminal restlessness” that often gets assigned to people who are particularly, well, restless throughout the process.

As I watched my grandfather muck through these particular aspects of dying, I couldn’t help but think of the statements about how Osiris is a Lord of Terror, how it is terrifying to be dying. How someone who is becoming increasingly restless and foreign can be a semi-scary thing to deal with day in and day out. That no amount of happy hormones from their brain can erase the fact that sometime in the near future, this person will no longer exist as we know them to exist. And that further, throughout these periods of difficulty, its not uncommon for your soon-to-be Osiris to completely forget who you are. And yet, you still have to take care of them and deal with whatever shows up.

Hail to you, Mourner of Osiris, Companion of the Bull of Nedit who makes the mummy-wrappings to breathe, who veils the limpness, to whom Osiris has turned his back, helper of the embalmer Anubis when treating the body of the Inert One.

When using this metaphor, I would say that I am Aset, my grandfather would be Osiris, and hospice would be Anup. By far, I would encourage anyone who is coming into the final cusps of death to reach out to hospice or palliative care, because they were very helpful in getting me anything that I needed throughout the process.

I will be frank and mention that two thirds of my family believes that hospice somehow made my grandfather die sooner, but I honestly think it couldn’t be further from the truth. They gave us access to so many resources we would not have had otherwise. It was great to have an RN that I could ask questions to, because when you start to really get deep into caregiving, you end up taking on a lot of responsibilities that you’re not trained for.

Have you ever been taught how to properly fold and place a draw sheet on a bed? I certainly wasn’t, at least not until hospice sent me someone to teach me. Even though I was the one dealing with everything on a daily basis, at the end of the day, I felt like I was more of an assistant, relying on people who knew more about this than I did, to help guide me through the proper care of someone who was dying.

See that I have come to you so that I might see your beauty, So that I might serve you and restore your body.
I have come to you so that I might greet you daily as your son, For I am your son, the Protector of his Father

When my grandfather was still relatively “with it,” I let him associate with whoever he wanted, however he wanted. Most everyone that he had contact with had been informed that he had dementia, and that his behaviours could change or be out of character periodically, they technically were prepared for any oddities that he displayed (I say technically, because they were still mostly in denial up until the bitter end.) However, when my grandfather entered into dying, he was no longer able to make those decisions. Instead, those decisions fell to me.

One of the last days that my grandfather was still able to semi-function, I asked him about whether he wanted certain family members around. I mostly wanted to do this so that I could get a good idea of whether any of these people was vital to his ability to have a peaceful death, since some people do request time with specific folks before they go. However, grandpa wasn’t particularly interested in some folks, and when I discovered that, I knew that I would need to consider what role, if any, they played in his dying process.

Relations with my family have been strained throughout the entire caregiving process that has occurred over the past year and a half, so I’m sure you can imagine how mixed it got when it came to light that I didn’t involve certain people in the final 48 hours of life. For me, this was about protecting my “Osiris.” It was about making sure that none of his last conscious moments was filled with stress or drama. As I tried to explain to my relatives, my job was to facilitate his peaceful passing, not their ego.

Just as Osiris, when my grandfather entered the final stage of his life, he had virtually no ability to defend himself or make choices for himself. He had wholly become the Inert One. It is vital to be careful in who you select to oversee those final moments of your life.

Hail to you, Lady of offerings at whom Osiris rejoices when he sees her, whose great wall is an owner of possessions; who brings air, who gives offerings, who presides over the throne in the secret places of the Netherworld; who clears the vision of the Bull of Djedu, who split open his mouth and split open his eyes when the Inert One asked; who gathered together his arms and legs, who laid Osiris down in [ … ,] who gave abundance to the Lord of the Flood on the desert plateau; who gave offerings. Open a path for the Inert One to the abode of embalming, the pillared bark.

One of the benefits of utilizing hospice was that our “path” to the “abode of embalming” didn’t involve an ambulance. Instead, they will send someone out to collect the body and take it to the morgue. You are asked to give any specific instructions or items to be left with the body during the processing of the body, and then its more or less out of your hands.

It’s a surreal feeling going from doing nearly constant work for someone, only to have the entire space vacant and empty. Figuring out what to do with your time, how to refocus your life, is a little bit daunting. The process leaves not only the Osiris changed, but the Lady of Offerings is changed as well.

O my father Osiris, here am I; I have come to you, for I have smitten Seth for you, I have slain his confederacy, I have smitten them who smote you, I have cut down them who cut you down. I am one who overcomes with strength, the heir of everything; I myself have guarded my body, I have felled my foes, and I have created it, this new state(?) in which I am.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles, Year of Rites

 

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